28 February 2013

06 February 2013

That's Me In the Corner: Choosing My Religion

I meant to post this flowchart some time ago. Now is as good a time as any though.
Unfortunately, to make it legible, I have to ask you to rotate your device.

ie: Sit and Spin.

02 February 2013

ICYMI: Shockingly Good Editorial on Reproductive Rights

With other people writing terrific articles, letters to the editor, and (shocking!) editors themselves writing decent editorials, I hardly need to write anything myself. I can just watch, rinse, and repeat.

Ladies and Gents --  I proudly reprint the following Editorial from the Hartford Courant on January 23, 2013:

The Roe vs. Wade decision that the Supreme Court handed down 40 years ago this week gave American women a right that most then did not have: The right to make reproductive medical decisions for themselves. That single right is critical to the ability of a woman of child-bearing age to determine the course of her own life. Roe was a sound decision in 1973 and remains so today.

But consider this paradox: With the passage of time, more and more Americans — 63 percent in a Pew poll, and 70 percent in an NBC/Wall Street Journal survey — believe that the decision should remain law and not be overturned. Yet states are passing ever-increasing restrictions on women's abortion rights.

In the last two years, states passed 135 restrictions on when and how women can obtain an abortion. In four states, there is just one clinic where women can obtain an abortion — the Dakotas, Mississippi and Arkansas. Twenty-six states impose waiting periods and eight states restrict abortion coverage available even in private insurance. Other restrictions include forcing women to listen to ideological statements on the alleged greater risk of depression, suicide or cancer from having an abortion, assertions that scientific studies soundly contradict.

It is hard to imagine fundamental male reproductive decisions being the subject of the same level of legislative debate, harassment, patronizing lectures and legal restrictions as women routinely endure. That, unfortunately, shows no sign of changing. What will help lower the incidence of abortion even more is the expansion of the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, as it makes contraception available without cost sharing. That is all to the good.

Meanwhile, opponents of Roe will continue to attempt to chip away at women's right to an abortion. The majority that supports Roe could use the opposition's tenacity and not, even on this 40th anniversary, take the current right for granted.

01 February 2013

Mental Health - Informative OP ED

I am reprinting this in full because it is long and complex. It was sent to me by a friend who is active in Mental Health and Addiction Services work. Normally I try to give a link and only extract a paragraph or two, for copyright reasons and to redirect to the original source. In this case, Sue Me.

I actually got a cup of coffee and sat in quiet to read the whole piece, since it gives background and history that is helpful knowledge as we continue to discuss all solutions and variables to working forward. 

My take-away is the need or better services for children and youth. But then again, that is always my take-away. ...Or Leftovers, when it involves a good restaurant!
OP-ED from The Hartford Courant

Forced Mental Health Treatment Wrong

By JANET VAN TASSEL |  January 7, 2013
In the past month there have been numerous thoughtful recommendations for improving the state's mental health system, and Connecticut is, from a policy perspective, well-positioned to implement most of these proposals.

Since the Report of the Blue Ribbon Commission on Mental Health was issued in July 2000, the state has pursued evidence-based practices and become a national leader in promoting a community-based, family- and consumer-oriented system of care.

Unfortunately, many of these innovative measures have been funded through federal grants that are limited in scope and time, or hampered by state budget constraints that have prevented their full implementation. In addition, funding for private nonprofit agencies that provide many community supports and services has not kept pace with state-operated counterparts. In short, Connecticut has the programmatic building blocks to construct the comprehensive community-based system of care it promised when state hospitals were closed, but not the resources to support it.

For example, it is well-documented that supportive housing is a cost-effective way to provide a stable living arrangement for families and individuals with mental illness, which reduces hospital expenditures and promotes self-sufficiency. However, despite recent investments by the state, housing subsidies fall well below the demand, forcing vulnerable people into shelters, and leaving discharge-ready people in expensive state hospital beds. Similarly, a federally supported initiative to expedite Social Security disability applications for people with mental illness is understaffed, and people with mental illness are being released from the state Department of Correction facilities are homeless.

Funding to expand school-based clinics and programs for children an youth have been cut, as the number of homeless youth rises. And despite a mental health parity law, private insurers routinely deny claims for mental health treatment services, particularly for children.
Although Connecticut has been recognized as having one of the best mental health systems in the country, accessing services and supports is still a futile effort for many. In fact, persons with mental illness routinely seek legal services because their services have been denied, reduced or terminated by agencies with limited funds.

Given this context, it is troubling that legislative proposals to authorize involuntary outpatient treatment for persons with mental illness have again been raised. The appeal of such a measure, which on its face sounds eminently reasonable, is understandable. However, it is fraught with complexities, starting with the fact that determining whether a person who is not currently a danger to self or others or gravely disabled, but is "potentially dangerous" is not straightforward. There is no system for identifying persons who might be dangerous, and violent behavior is not linked to a psychiatric diagnosis.

Because a forced medication or treatment law would restrict the fundamental civil rights of people with mental illness, there are questions about whether it would violate Connecticut's constitutional protections for these individuals. Certainly, it would require an enforcement system and court proceedings comparable to those used in New York, which cost more than $32 million per year. Consequently, it would be very costly, and use money that would be better spent on community services.

A Task Force Report on Issues Related to Involuntary Outpatient Commitment and Alternatives, which was issued in January 1997, rejected outpatient commitment and recommended specific alternative measures which were subsequently pursued by the state. Last year, the Judiciary Committee had a full hearing on similar legislation, which was opposed by groups as diverse as state agencies, psychologists and police officers, and rejected by the committee. This is the time to invest the state's limited resources into constructing a comprehensive system of screening, services and housing supports for children, youth and adults with mental illness rather than pursue a course that would divert funds from the real problem. It is the wrong tool for Connecticut.
Janet Van Tassel, a lawyer, is executive director of the Connecticut Legal Rights Project and founder and co-chairwoman of the Keep the Promise Coalition.
Copyright  2013, The Hartford Courant

In conclusion: Thanks for reading this.